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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 20, 2022

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 20, 2022

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 2,708 new cases, one death (media)
• Kurti justifies increase of energy price (media)
• Rizvanolli: We are working to resolve lack of electricity bills’ payment in north (media)
• “Even if tariffs proposed by ERO are approved, price of electricity in Kosovo is the lowest in Europe” (Ekonomia)
• Gashi: We will stop increase of energy price with resolution, LVV made it impossible for us to debate (Ekonomia)
• Coordination and Evaluation Committee proposes new measures to slow down increase of COVID-19 cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Covid-19: 235 new cases registered in Serbian areas (Kosovo-online)
• Petkovic: Serbia paid for every KW of electricity consumed in north until 2021, it was Serbian electricity (KoSSev)
• Unvaccinated students to miss exams at Mitrovica North University (Kosovo-online)
• Mojsilovic: Serbian Army will react to attempts to endanger Serbs in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
• Serbian school children going to school every other day (N1)
• Gov’t set to confirm Rio Tinto’s departure from Serbia (Tanjug)

International:

• Kosovo War Victims ‘Fear Betrayal’ over Compensation Hopes (BIRN)
• Berisha’s Antics Are Useful Distraction for Albanian Govt’s Failures (Balkan Insight)
• Israeli Historian ‘Will Correct Srebrenica Death Toll in Bosnian Serb Report’ (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 2,708 new cases, one death (media)
  • Kurti justifies increase of energy price (media)
  • Rizvanolli: We are working to resolve lack of electricity bills’ payment in north (media)
  • “Even if tariffs proposed by ERO are approved, price of electricity in Kosovo is the lowest in Europe” (Ekonomia)
  • Gashi: We will stop increase of energy price with resolution, LVV made it impossible for us to debate (Ekonomia)
  • Coordination and Evaluation Committee proposes new measures to slow down increase of COVID-19 cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Covid-19: 235 new cases registered in Serbian areas (Kosovo-online)
  • Petkovic: Serbia paid for every KW of electricity consumed in north until 2021, it was Serbian electricity (KoSSev)
  • Unvaccinated students to miss exams at Mitrovica North University (Kosovo-online)
  • Mojsilovic: Serbian Army will react to attempts to endanger Serbs in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
  • Serbian school children going to school every other day (N1)
  • Gov’t set to confirm Rio Tinto’s departure from Serbia (Tanjug)

International:

  • Kosovo War Victims ‘Fear Betrayal’ over Compensation Hopes (BIRN)
  • Berisha’s Antics Are Useful Distraction for Albanian Govt’s Failures (Balkan Insight)
  • Israeli Historian ‘Will Correct Srebrenica Death Toll in Bosnian Serb Report’ (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: 2,708 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo has recorded 2,708 new cases with COVID-19 and one death in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 202 persons have recovered from the virus during this time. There are 9,771 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Kurti justifies increase of energy price (media)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti has justified the increase in the price of electricity.

He said in the plenary session of the Assembly that the capacity of energy production is only 727 megawatts, while consumption is over 1.3 gigawatts. Thus, according to him, the price of energy imports only yesterday cost 2.5 million euros and they should get the money somewhere.

“With 727 megawatts of capacity and peak consumption of over 1.3 gigawatts and with imports of over 10 gigawatt hours per day and with international stock prices around 250 euros per megawatt hour we end up spending 2.5 million euros per day. Tell us where to get the money, that’s the question. The rest is, I am not going to use any inappropriate words at the Assembly,” he said.

The head of the PDK parliamentary group, Abelard Tahiri, reacted to the Prime Minister, saying that the executive has established poor management in KEK.

“You have put weak management for more than two years in the leadership of KEK. Therefore, I think that the placement of these incompetent people should not be implemented neither with EU contracts for the overhaul of electro-filters in block B1 and B2 of Kosovo B. This should have been done in 2020,” he said.

PM Kurti replied to Tahiri saying that the management of KEK did not fail, but the B2 turbine which is 40 years old.

MP Hykmete Bajramaj accused PM Kurti that he did not deliver on a promise to lower energy prices, but the latter responded to have never made such a promise.

“I have not said that the energy price will go down on the day I become prime minister, but in the past there have been some tariff incentives which increased the price of electricity. We can’t do in ten months what you didn’t do in 20 years,” Kurti said.

The head of the Parliamentary Group of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Besnik Tahiri said that the country, the government and the citizens of Kosovo will go into total bankruptcy if the proposal for increase of the electricity price is approved.

Are you aware of what you are talking about, are you aware of the situation you will bring to Kosovo if you approve ERO’s proposal,” Tahiri asked.

Rizvanolli: We are working to resolve lack of payment of electricity bills in the north (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Economy Artane Rizvanolli said in the Assembly session that is being held for the increase of the energy price, that the government subsidy reduces the profit of KEDS and KESCO. She also said they are working to find solutions to the non-payment of electricity in the north.

“We have provided a €75 million subsidy that is a little more than half of the request made by ERO. Not a single cent of the subsidy goes into the pockets of KEDS and KESCO. By subsidizing KEDS and KESCO, the profit decreases because they cannot profit from the subsidy,” she said.

“For payment in the north we are being able to resolve the issue despite a not very good deal you have left us,” she said addressing the opposition political parties.

She also added that the government does not propose or approve ERO board tariffs.

“The government neither proposes nor approves either the tariffs or the reports or the decisions of the board of ERO, which is an independent institution. We will address the comments as required by law and invite you for any comments you may have. Through the instruments we have, we will help the citizens, especially those who rationalize the electricity,” Rizvanolli said.

“Even if tariffs proposed by ERO are approved, price of electricity in Kosovo is the lowest in Europe” (Ekonomia)

The Minister of Economy, Artane Rizvanolli stated that the statements of MPs that the price of electricity in Kosovo is similar to Italy are untrue.

“Many untruths were told today in the Assembly about energy tariffs proposed by ERO and subsidized from the government of the Republic of Kosovo. Among the most serious ones, were the statements of some opposition MPs that the price of energy is becoming 21 cents / kWh, similar to countries such as Italy. For the sake of public opinion, I want to correct these untruths: In fact the (average) tariff for household consumers remains the lowest in Europe, with the exception of Ukraine, even if the tariff is increased in accordance with the proposal of ERO and the government subsidy,” she wrote.

Gashi: We will stop increase of energy price with resolution, LVV made it impossible for us to debate (Ekonomia)

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has criticized the majority, due to the lack of support to include as a matter of urgency a parliamentary debate on raising electricity prices during today’s parliamentary session. The head of the LDK parliamentary group Arben Gashi said that Vetevendosje Movement refused through a vote to discuss this issue.

“Today, the Assembly, more precisely LVV, refused with a vote in the assembly to debate the energy crisis. We supported the PDK to discuss electricity. The LVV prevented the Assembly from debating and offering solutions. In addition to the inability, they confirmed the unwillingness to deal with electricity. What is being noticed as a problem is that from today, KEK produces 1000 megawatts of energy and gives it for 30 euros to KEDS, as a distributor, and it will be billed to the citizens for 222 euros per megawatt. Citizens will pay higher price of energy than other European countries. It is intolerable, and we will try to hold a session and propose a resolution not to increase the price of electricity,” he said.

“Prime Minister Kurti can blame governments, as we had the cheapest energy, because it was some 6 cents or so, and today it has risen to 22 cents. He is getting it for 30 euros per megawatt and KEDS is selling it to the citizens for 22.4 cents. We will propose the reservation of long-term quotas. It is a comprehensive plan that must be implemented. They are ignorant and disorganized to govern the country,” Gashi said.

Coordination and Evaluation Committee proposes new measures to slow down increase of COVID-19 cases (media)

The Committee for coordination and assessment of the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic met today, following the significant increase in positive cases of Covid-19 in recent days.

The National Institute of Public Health has confirmed that almost all of these cases are of the Omicron variant, which spreads extremely quickly and easily compared to previous variants of the Coronavirus.

The new version of the Corona virus requires an update of measures based on data, said the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, at the opening of the meeting.

Due to the extremely contagious nature of the Omicron variant, the rise of cases, at least for a time, was inevitable. Therefore, the Prime Minister requested from this Committee that the established measures have as main goal the slowing down of the increase of cases.

“Slowing down the increase in the number of cases will ensure that the functioning of the health system is not endangered by a large and sudden influx of patients in hospitals, or by the lack of infected health workers. Also, such a slowdown will give time to the citizens to be vaccinated as massively as possible, either with the first two doses, or with the boosting dose. This will provide you with protection from infection or serious illness, as well as help Kosovo as a whole to pass the current wave as quickly as possible and with as few consequences as possible,” reads the announcement made by the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Minister of Health, Rifat Latifi has called for vaccination, and assured the citizens of Kosovo that the vaccines are not expired.

“Of course there will be a change of measures, these measures will be in proportion to the developments and the spread of cases, the spread of COVID-19 and will be in proportion to the development needs of children in schools, keeping schools open, keeping open economy […] Each of us should be vaccinated, every child should be vaccinated, those who got the first vaccine should get the second and third. We have enough vaccines, our vaccines have not expired, we have everything in order, therefore it is extremely important for us to be vaccinated,” he stressed.

Not giving many details about the recommendations, Latifi added that it may happen that the operation of gastronomy will be allowed only until 22:00.

Minister Latifi said that recommendations for review of the measures will be sent to the government today or tomorrow morning.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Covid-19: 235 new cases registered in Serbian areas (Kosovo-online)

Out of 320 tested samples in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, 235 cases tested positive for Covid-19, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced, Kosovo-online portal reports.

New cases were registered as follows: 111 in Mitrovica North, 72 in Leposavic, 29 in Zvecan, ten in Zubin Potok, eight in Gracanica, four in Priluzje, and one in Gnjilane.

Currently there are 887 active cases of Covid-19 in the Serbian areas in Kosovo.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, a total of 29.700 persons have been tested in the Serbian areas, and out of this number 9.395 were positive for Covid-19. Also a total of 195 people died as a result of Covid-19 related complications. 

Petkovic: Serbia paid for every KW of electricity consumed in north until 2021, it was Serbian electricity (KoSSev)

“Serbian parallel structures in northern Kosovo are not allowing Serb citizens to pay for the electricity they are consuming”, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said yesterday at a press conference on the Kosovo government’s decision to approve a request of the Energy Regulatory Office to increase electricity prices for consumers who consume more than 600 kWh of electricity, KoSSev portal reports.

On Wednesday, the imported electricity in Kosovo reached the value of 2.3 million euros and someone has to pay for it, Kurti said, accusing the previous governments of investment misuse in the energy sector but also the politicization of electricity issues in the north – along with “illegal structures from Serbia.”

“Every kilowatt of electricity consumed all these years ago has been duly paid for” Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic, said late last night in response to Kurti’s allegations. “Saying that electricity in the north of Kosovo has allegedly not been paid for years is nothing but Albin Kurti’s false thesis“, Petkovic added.

“Until the beginning of 2021, official Belgrade and EPS (Serbian Electricity Company) paid for the electricity in four municipalities in the north of Kosovo via EMS transmission systems. It was the electricity of the Republic of Serbia, which Belgrade supplied to the north of Kosovo, from the moment Pristina physically interrupted the supply of electricity to the north a decade ago, which could have led to a humanitarian catastrophe“, Petkovic said in a statement, referring to the period from 2008 to December of last year, when the north was removed from the EMS control area.

According to Petkovic, not only is Albin Kurti spreading lies, but this is also an already tried and tested mechanism to place the blame on Belgrade for all his problems and omissions.

The sole responsibility for the current unresolved situation on the ground lies with the Kosovo authorities, who persistently refuse to issue electricity supply license to “Elektrosever“ company, thus directly violating energy agreements reached in 2013 and 2015 within the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Petkovic recalled.

He emphasized that Pristina has also refused to discuss this topic during the last rounds of the Brussels dialogue – even though obtaining a supply license for the company “Elektrosever“ is of vital importance.

“Kurti obviously doesn’t want that. When it comes to energy, the matter is very clear, Pristina is deliberately creating a problem by delaying the issuance of a license to “Elektrosever“, which fulfilled all the necessary conditions as per the agreement a long time ago. Instead of respecting the signed agreements, Kurti is using cheap politics and the issue of energy stability in the north of Kosovo for a showdown with the institutions of the state of Serbia in Kosovo”, Petkovic said.

Since December last year, when the north was separated from the EMS control area, Kosovo has been paying the electricity bills in the north.

Until September 2013, the energy system in the north was disconnected from the Kosovo system. Electricity in the north, to Valac, came from Novi Pazar, through the distribution line from the direction of Raska, which supplies Lesak and Trepca flotation, (it still supplies the latter even today, about 13%). 

Electricity supply could physically come from the south only once Valac was reconnected – following the Brussels agreement on energy in September 2013.

A source familiar with the situation in the energy sector recently told KoSSev that EPS continued to supply, invoice, and cover the citizens’ bills.

For years now, Kosovo media have been claiming that Kosovo citizens are actually the ones covering the electricity costs of consumers from the north.

Without denying that citizens in the south (possibly) paid raised bills, or even that they were told that it was to cover the costs of consumers in the north, KoSSev’s source testified that this was “certainly not the case“ due to electricity consumption in the north “for the simple reason that this cost was borne by EPS until December last year“.

Unvaccinated students to miss exams at Mitrovica North University (Kosovo-online)

There is no solution in sight for the students from central Serbia studying at Mitrovica North University, even if they get the vaccine now, given that Pristina’s decision stipulates two doses were required to enter Kosovo, Kosovo-online portal reports citing Belgrade-based Politika daily.

Around 3.500 students from central Serbia, for two weeks already can’t come to Kosovo and certify their semesters at one of the ten faculties of the Serbian University of Pristina, temporarily dislocated to Mitrovica North, and they fear to miss the exam deadline which starts on January 31.

According to the portal the problem is that most of them received no vaccine against coronavirus, and they were caught by surprise by the Kosovo government that a certificate of receiving two doses of Covid-19 vaccine was mandatory to cross administrative crossing points with Serbia.

Student Dean of Mitrovica North University, Nemanja Bisevac said there is no solution either for those who would get the vaccine now in order to attend the exams, since, as he said, Kosovo authorities do not recognize certificate of one dose, even if the holder of the certificate would submit medical evidence of contracting Covid-19 and being cured. According to him, this decision also affects some students coming from North Macedonia, and those coming from Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina), as they enter Kosovo from central Serbia.

“Unlike University in Pristina, where there are no students of Serb ethnicity, we have several colleagues of Albanian ethnicity who come from Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac. As most of the young people, they didn’t receive the vaccine, and they are also affected by this decision. They mainly study Serbian language at our University and return to their home place to teach the language at schools. It is interesting that the Kosovo government didn’t make the same condition for residents of Albania, so they may enter Kosovo and Metohija without any certificates of vaccination”, Bisevac claims.

He added they were encouraging students to get vaccines in different ways, but had no major success given that facilities in Mitrovica North, as he said, lead in numbers of unvaccinated students.  

University of Pristina, temporarily dislocated to Mitrovica North, is a Serbian University that left Pristina following the end of the conflict in 1999. It is attended by 10.000 students and operates within the system of the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technical Development. This institution is one of the leading pillars of the spiritual survival of the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija, the portal said.

Mojsilovic: Serbian Army will react to attempts to endanger Serbs in Kosovo (Radio KIM)

Chief of Staff of the Army of Serbia, General Milan Mojsilovic said he doesn’t exclude new unilateral actions of the Kosovo security forces in the north of Kosovo, adding that the Army of Serbia will react to such attempts, Radio KIM reports.

Following assessments of the conditions and capabilities of the Serbian Army last year, General Mojsilovic said he doesn’t exclude the possibility that Pristina, in order to gain certain political points on the ground, may engage security forces in “unilateral and disproportional manner”.

“Our request, insistence, and some other affairs will be in function of ensuring peace and level of security which guarantees that our people in Kosovo and Metohija can live and exercise their rights as all citizens of this country”, Mojsilovic said.

He recalled that based on UN SC Resolution 1244 and Kumanovo Military-Technical Agreement “KFOR units are the only legitimate forces in Kosovo”.

“We insist that their (KFOR) relations with other security subjects, which are not recognized in our documents as bearers of any security function, be impartial and in the spirit of signed agreements and this relates not only to the Kosovo police, but also to the Kosovo security forces, with a ban to enter the north of Kosovo and Metohija without particular consent of the KFOR Commander”, Mojsilovic said.

He added that in cases of Kosovo security forces with or without the consent of KFOR entering the north of Kosovo, the Army of Serbia undertakes the tasks in line with it.

“You were witnesses of our engagement along administrative lines, particularly in the direction leading from the north to central Serbia and preventive deployment of rapid action forces of the Serbian Army”, Mojsilovic said.

He also noted he is satisfied with relations with the new KFOR Commander, and that the cooperation so far goes in the spirit of predicting the situation and without serious incidents that could endanger realization of Military-Technical Agreement and Resolution 1244.

Serbian school children going to school every other day (N1)

The Serbian Education Ministry said on Thursday that most elementary and high school children will go to school every other day when the new semester starts on January 24, N1 reports. 

A press release said that the ministry schools team decided that children in grades 1 to 4 will go to school every day, children in grades 5 to 8 and in high schools will go to school every other day, using the so-called combined method.

“The decision was taken following a detailed review of all parameters and data from the competent institutions. At this moment this is the best solution for students and staff. The important thing is to maintain the continuity of the education process while following all epidemiological measures”, Education Minister Branko Ruzic is quoted as saying.

The number of new coronavirus cases has been rising in the past two weeks with doctors warning that the numbers will not start dropping before mid-February.

Ruzic also said schools team will monitor the situation and make decisions weekly. The press release said that face masks are mandatory for all students, staff and anyone else entering schools both indoors and outdoors.

According to the Serbian Public Health Institute, there were 3,074 children aged 6 to 18 positive for Covid-19 in the week between January 12 and 19.

Gov’t set to confirm Rio Tinto’s departure from Serbia (Tanjug)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has called a government session for Thursday, Tanjug news agency reports citing its sources.

After the session, scheduled for 5 p.m., Brnabic will speak to reporters.

Tanjug also said it learnt the government is set to confirm Brnabic’s announcement that the mining company Rio Tinto would be out of Serbia in a few weeks’ time. Rio Tinto’s plans to excavate jadarite mineral in Serbia caused massive environmental protests at the end of last year. 

 

 

International

 

Kosovo War Victims ‘Fear Betrayal’ over Compensation Hopes (BIRN)

Over two decades after the 1998-99 war ended, victims in cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague still do not know for certain whether or not they will be able to claim compensation for the suffering they endured.

Victims who have had their identities concealed to protect them during criminal trials do not dare to claim compensation in civil proceedings for fear of exposure because current legislation in Kosovo does not allow anonymous claims for compensation in civil cases.

The judging panel in the case against former Kosovo Liberation Army commander Salih Mustafa at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers issued a ruling last year about compensation for victims which noted that Kosovo’s Law on the Kosovo Specialist Chambers does not set specific criteria for how compensation can be obtained.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3KtoT2v

Berisha’s Antics Are Useful Distraction for Albanian Govt’s Failures (Balkan Insight)

If Albania observed the rule of law, it would have arrested Sali Berisha long ago – but leaving him a free man clearly serves Prime Minister Rama’s narrow political interests.

Since the fall of communism, two major factors have hindered Albania’s democratic progress – former prime minister and president Sali Berisha, and a lack of political will to enforce the rule of law.

The two came to a head on January 8, when Berisha organized a failed hostile takeover of the opposition Democratic Party headquarters.

Police arrested 34 Berisha supporters for destruction of property. But Berisha was let go to continue his fight another day, which led many to question if the rule of law is again being applied selectively in Albania.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3tFyhu1

Israeli Historian ‘Will Correct Srebrenica Death Toll in Bosnian Serb Report’ (Balkan Insight)

Historian Gideon Greif, who headed a Bosnian Serb government-funded commission that published a report on Srebrenica denying that genocide was committed, said he will issue a clarification confirming that 8,000 people were killed in massacres in July 1995.

Gideon Greif told Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Tuesday that he will soon produce an addendum to the report on Srebrenica published last July by a commission funded by the government of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska to make clear that around 8,000 people from Srebrenica were killed in July 1995.

“We will be publishing a clarification to the report in the coming weeks,” Greif told Haaretz, saying that this will answer critics who have labelled him a historical revisionist.

The report by the Republika Srpska-backed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Sufferings of All Peoples in the Srebrenica Region between 1992 and 1995 stated that the largest number of Srebrenica victims that could have been buried in primary graves did not exceed 3,715.

The Israeli historian told Haaretz however that there will not be any revision to the part of the report that says the killings of Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb forces did not constitute genocide.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3nHZ6tU

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